\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shook (audio) \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən How to pronounce shaken (audio) \; shaking

Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move irregularly to and fro
2 : to vibrate especially as the result of a blow or shock
3 : to tremble as a result of physical or emotional disturbance shook with fear
4 : to experience a state of instability : totter
5 : to briskly move something to and fro or up and down especially in order to mix
6 : to clasp hands

transitive verb

1 : to brandish, wave, or flourish often in a threatening manner protesters shaking their fists
2 : to cause to move to and fro, up and down, or from side to side especially in a repetitive, rhythmic, or quick jerky manner shook his head in disapproval
3 : to cause to quake, quiver, or tremble
4a : to free oneself from shake a habit shake off a cold
b : to get away from : get rid of can you shake your friend? I want to talk to you alone— Elmer Davis
5 : to lessen the stability of : weaken shake one's faith
6 : to bring to a specified condition by or as if by repeated quick jerky movements shook himself loose from the man's grasp
7 : to dislodge or eject by quick jerky movements of the support or container shook the dust from the cloth
8 : to clasp (hands) in greeting or farewell or as a sign of goodwill or agreement
9 : to stir the feelings of : upset, agitate shook her up
shake a leg
1 : dance
2 : to hurry up
shake a stick at
: to form a conception of (as by counting or imagining) : conceive usually used in the phrase more than one can shake a stick at



Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of shaking: such as
a : an act of shaking hands
b : an act of shaking oneself
2a : a blow or shock that upsets the equilibrium or disturbs the balance of something
3 shakes plural
a : a condition of trembling or nervousness specifically : delirium tremens
4 : something produced by shaking: such as
a : a fissure separating annual rings of growth in timber
b(1) : milkshake
(2) : a beverage resembling a milkshake a protein shake
5 : a wavering, quivering, or alternating motion caused by a blow or shock
6 : trill
7 : a very brief period of time I'll be there in two shakes
8 shakes plural : one that is exceptional especially in importance, ability, or merit usually used in the phrase no great shakes
9 : a shingle split from a piece of log usually three or four feet (about one meter) long
10 : deal entry 2 sense 3 a fair shake

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Other Words from shake


shakable or shakeable \ ˈshā-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shakeable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for shake


shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence. shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose. shake well before using agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring. an ocean agitated by storms rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval. the whole city was rocked by the explosion convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm. spectators were convulsed with laughter

Examples of shake in a Sentence

Verb The ground shook during the earthquake. The house shook as the train rumbled by. The earthquake shook the ground. Shake the salad dressing well before using it. I was so nervous that I was shaking like a leaf. The fugitive couldn't shake the police. It's hard to shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something. The news did nothing to shake my belief that things will be okay. Nothing could shake his faith in God. Noun He responded to the question with a shake of his head. Give the dice a shake. He drank too much coffee and got a bad case of the shakes.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For the most part, Hannity just sat and shook his head up and down or from side to side, like one of those little dogs people used to put in the back of cars. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here's why Hannity's Trump Super Bowl interview was even worse than we could have expected," 2 Feb. 2020 Unsurprisingly, celebs also saw the similarities, commenting on the pic with how shook they were. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "Charles Melton's Grandfather Looked JUST Like Him and It's Totally Freaky," 31 Jan. 2020 Halep then broke her racket in disgust and shook her head in her chair. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Sofia Kenin ends 'Barty Party' at Australian Open, will face Garbine Muguruza in final," 30 Jan. 2020 Unable to shake her encounter, the real estate agent made up her mind to help Oakland's at-risk children. Glamour, "Glamour Women of the Year 2002: Oral Lee Brown," 30 Jan. 2020 Just when things are starting to settle down at Grey Sloan — at least for these couples — Amelia's paternity issues are about to really shake it up. Lindsay Denninger,, "Why Amelia Made That Call About Her Baby’s Father On Grey’s," 23 Jan. 2020 Federer was left shaking his head at the Serb’s go-for-broke service return that repelled Federer’s first match point. oregonlive, "Roger Federer’s career Grand Slam record is in danger as rivals make determined push: 2020 Australian Open," 19 Jan. 2020 Recoil with a full-house 150-grain load in an 8-pound rifle should shake you with around 17 ft-lbs of recoil energy at a recoil velocity of 11.7 fps. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "Best Calibers For Africa Plains Game," 13 Jan. 2020 Heston said in a famous speech as president of the NRA, shaking a replica of a 19th century Sharps rifle above his head. Elizabeth Macbride, Quartz, "The NRA’s most powerful weapon is not a gun," 7 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The officer found marijuana shake, rolling papers and a cigar filled with marijuana during a vehicle search, according to the report. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Police report finding narcotics stashes during Friendswood traffic stops," 30 Jan. 2020 Then there was almond milk (available in boxes alongside the European-style long-shelf-life milk), which nutritionists recommend for smoothies and protein shakes, and which Starbucks endorses as a dairy substitute in lattes. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "Milk: It Does an Impeachment Good," 23 Jan. 2020 This Olmos Park hole-in-the-wall burger shop from superstar chef Andrew Weissman keeps it simple: single or double burgers with or without cheese, fries, shakes, a few add-ons. Chuck Blount,, "Top 10 Best Burger Restaurants in the San Antonio area," 27 Dec. 2019 There are three new shakes: Cookie Butter, Malted Milk Chocolate and Frozen Hot Chocolate. cleveland, "Shake Shack brings back award-winning burger, introduces trio of new shakes," 7 Jan. 2020 Both Flora and Fauna encountered a staff shake-up soon after, with Byres departing in July 2019. Erin Booke, Dallas News, "Chef Stephan Pyles is closing Flora Street Cafe and ‘retiring’ from restaurant ownership," 2 Jan. 2020 The shake, at 4:07 p.m. was centered about nine miles north of Anchorage in the Point MacKenzie area, and is considered an aftershock of the 7.1 earthquake on Nov. 30, 2018, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. Anchorage Daily News, "4.0 aftershock shakes Southcentral Alaska," 22 Nov. 2019 The menu includes protein bowls, salads, sandwiches, fresh juice, protein shakes, acai bowls and breakfast items. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "Pizza, burgers and craft beer: 41 new restaurants opened in metro Phoenix in October," 5 Nov. 2019 Opt in for the limited-edition Jacques O’Lantern shake, a delicious, cool and creamy chocolate creation that’s kissed with seasonal pumpkin and spice. Amy Drew Thompson,, "National Chocolate Day Treats at Universal CityWalk," 28 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shake


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shake


Middle English, from Old English sceacan; akin to Old Norse skaka to shake

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Time Traveler for shake

Time Traveler

The first known use of shake was before the 12th century

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Statistics for shake

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for shake


How to pronounce shake (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move sometimes violently back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements
: to move or have parts of your body move in short, quick movements and in a way that you are not able to control
: to free yourself from (someone or something) : to get away from or get rid of (someone or something)



English Language Learners Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a short, quick movement back and forth or up and down
informal : a condition in which parts of your body move in a way that you are not able to control


\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən \; shaking

Kids Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or cause to make quick movements back and forth or up and down The ground shook. Squirrels shook the branches.
2 : to tremble or make tremble : quiver She was so frightened her legs began to shake.
3 : to move from side to side I shook my head.
4 : to grasp and move up and down After reaching an agreement, they shook hands.
5 : to get away from She ran faster, but couldn't shake the dog.
6 : to make less firm : weaken After being beaten badly their confidence was shaken.
7 : to cause to be, become, go, or move by or as if by using a quick back and forth motion We can shake apples from the tree.



Kids Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a quick back and forth or up and down movement

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